Saturday, May 3, 2008

22 Hours From Prague To Marseille

Internet access is random on our trail. Sometimes, it is available in the hostels for free, sometimes for a charge, and sometimes not at all. In Prague, we did have free internet, but the keyboards had a different layout, again with the z and y interchanged, and sticky space bars. Additionally, we were preoccupied with finding lodging and making travel arrangements when we did have computer access, which is why I haven't had a chance to write until now. During my last posting, I mentioned that we finally found a hostel for our last night in Prague, that also happened to be my birthday. As were getting ready in the a.m., we could not wait to leave the fleabag hostel we had stayed at for the first two nights. The beds there were clean and fine to sleep in, but the showers filthy and gross. In fact, they were so nasty that Brian refused to shower there before we left, hoping to freshen up in our new hostel instead.

We happily toted our luggage over to the nearby hostel only to be told that they are absolutely booked. Sorry. No availability for the holiday.
Me: But, I made a reservation, AND received an email confirmation. I have the confirmation number here, 5154.
Hostel Guy: Sorry, there must be some mistake. We do not have any room for you. In fact, I believe I sent you an email telling you this.
Me: I never received it. If I had received such an email, I would have tried to make alternative accommodations. Now, it is going to be too late to find anything since it is a holiday and they're booked everywhere.
Hostel Guy: I am sorry, I just gave away our last room
Brian: Did you just give the last room to the guys who cut in front of us in line while we waited?
Hostel Guy: Yes, that was the last room. Sorry.
I'm almost in tears at this point. Can't find a room to stay in here in Prague. Can't find a room to stay in in Marseille. The travel arrangements I had made to Marseille, Porto, and Madrid, were not what I had wanted and ended up costing me more than they should, which really irked me.
Me: But, it's my birthday, I really don't want to spend it sleeping in the bus station.
Somehow, this desperate plea must have worked. the hostel guy(who actually was very friendly) looked some more on his complicated bed availability chart and somehow magically found us a room after he looked at my passport and confirmed that it was, in fact, my birthday. I wonder where we would have slept had it not been my birthday.

Anyhow, the room was beautiful (but our hostel world standards), PRIVATE, i.e. just me and Brian, for the first time on this trip, AND we kinda had our own roof patio as well. (It was really just that we were able to climb out on the roof through our window).

Later that day, we hiked up the big hill on the other side of the river and climbed the 299 steps of the Petrin Tower, with a spectacular vista from the top. From there, we wandered over to the Prague Castle. We did not go in as it was pretty pricey, the line a mile long, and we had already seen two really impressive palaces, so figured we'd save our money. The remainder of our time in Prague, we pretty much spent enjoying scrumptious food and laughing about silly situations that had come up during our trip. For instance, one our free walking tour of Prague, the tour guide asked the group at one point if we knew who had composed the opera 'Don Giovanni' currently playing at the Prague Opera House. Someone in the group blurted out: "Don Quixote", and everyone in the group looked at each other in bewilderment. Was he serious?!? Did he actually think that Don Quixote, Cervantes' fictional character had composed Don Giovanni?

We also laughed about the time on the metro in Madrid when we were heading to the bus station with our big, bulky back packs. The train pulled into the station and the doors opened on both sides. Not really paying attention to the other side as the doors usually only open on one side, I exited on my side, while Brian did the same, except that his side was a different side and we ended up on separate sides of the train. For a split second, we stood there, like two complete idiots and just stared at each other from our separate platforms before Brian finally snapped into it and ran across the train to join me on my platform before the train doors closed.

Then there was the moment earlier that day when we were walking around, casually chatting about something related to my driving skills. Brian made some comment that I couldn't hear, and here's how the rest of the conversation went:
Me: Sorry, what did you say?
Brian: Your hearing is about as bad as my mother's.
Me (not wanting to reveal that yet again I did not hear what he'd said, but assuming that it was something derogatory about my driving skills): I'm a fine driver!!!

That one had us laughing so hard that we were nearly crying. My hearing is notoriously bad. I think there's some kind of disconnect between my inner ear and my audio cortex. (I know, I know, there's a lot of loose wiring in there, and a lot of missing wiring too for that matter!)

Anyhow, that pretty much sums up our time in Prague. As I mentioned previously, this was our parting point. Luckily, our buses departed at the same time, so at 3:30 p.m. Brian boarded a bus to Venice to explore Italy while I boarded a 22 hour bus to Marseille. The 22 hour ride actually wasn't that bad. We got a couple of breaks along the way. Overall, during the time I was awake and there was light out, the ride through south of Germany was very pretty. South of France was pretty as well, although in an entirely different way. The only bad point was when the nice and quiet French girl sitting next to me got off in Lyon. Instead, a couple of guys got on, and one of them had the stinkiest feet I have ever smelled. It was a rough five hour ride next to those reeky things after that.

Once I got to Marseille, I figured I would adopt our usual routine: find a tourist information office at the the bus station, get a map, walk to the hostel, dump my bags, and head out to explore. For the first time on this trip, that plan failed. Typical when I was alone. (Brian's words kept ringing in my ear: Getting lost together is an adventure, getting lost on your own is scary.) No tourist information office at this bus station. Luckily, the lady told me that the street I was looking for where my hostel is located, was nearby 'Dix minutes'. Perfect, I can walk there. Yay! I didn't quite understand the directions she gave other than make a left and go down the stairs. I figured, I'd just ask someone when I reached that point. And, that is what I did, until I had been directed by three different people to walk in a large circle and found myself back in front of the bus station again, which is pretty much where I wanted to be as the hostel is right there. So, here I am in Marseille. Alone. Thrilling and a little scary.

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